Thu | Mar 22, 2018

Letter of the Day | Jamaica 55 cronyism allegations troubling

Published:Thursday | April 6, 2017 | 12:00 AM


The recent revelation by the opposition spokesperson on youth and culture, Lisa Hanna, about alleged cronyism, nepotism and extravagance at the Ministry of Youth and Culture is very disturbing, to say the least.

During her sectoral presentation on Tuesday, Hanna tore into the Minister Olivia Grange ministry, citing gross financial misconduct with the hiring of a consultant to the tune of over $15 million, to assist the Jamaican Cultural Secretariat in organising and implementing the Jamaica 55 Independence celebrations. Ms Hanna also revealed an oversized board consisting of 32 members - that can't even fit into the boardroom during meetings. A budget of over $400 million was allocated for the Jamaica 55 celebration, some of which cannot be accounted for.


Blame game


In her defence, Minister Grange has denied most of the allegations and has given a partial account to the Parliament. The minister is also playing the blame game, indicating that the previous administration used the same consultant. But she is yet to credibly address the nepotism claims.

Let me say this on behalf of the hard-working, overtaxed Jamaican taxpayers: in 2017, we can do without any politician who engages in cronyism, corruption and nepotism. All of these actions rob us of our independence and stifle our growth and development, and lead us to nothing but crime and unemployment.

Every year, different administrations allocate millions of dollars towards our independence celebrations. In my opinion, we are deluding ourselves. I ask these questions: how can we celebrate independence when our main hospital in the west - Cornwall Regional - can't even provide a proper ventilation system for patients and staff?

How can we celebrate independence when we have a justice system that is so weak and overburdened (that) a young Khajeel Mais is gone and so many unanswered questions linger? How can we celebrate independence when crime continues to destroy so many young Jamaicans who were not given a chance to discover their true potential?

How can we celebrate independence when we rely on imports to feed and clothe ourselves?

As the great Bob Marley would say, "I have so much things to say right now, so much things to say".

Put the resources allocated for independence towards really making our country independent, by fixing the ills that plague our beautiful nation. Not until we do this we will be truly independent.

Phillip Harrison

Old Harbour Bay

St Catherine